Social Media for Humans

Spreading kindness on social media with Sarah Browning

August 26, 2022 Alexis Bushnell Season 2 Episode 23
Social Media for Humans
Spreading kindness on social media with Sarah Browning
Show Notes Transcript

Is there really kindness on social media? Sarah (she/her) thinks yes, and lots of it, but she's on a mission to prove it. I chat to her about why she's so passionate about kindness and why so many of us are a bit scared to believe in it.

Sarah is a Kindness Cheerleader and Communicator. She works with organisations and individuals to find more effective ways to communicate their vision of a kinder world and to achieve their organisational goals. With nearly 20 years’ experience supporting charities, higher education institutions and other not-for-profits to communicate more strategically, she also runs #ProjectAmplifyKindness, an initiative to share stories of every day kindness.

Sarah's links.
Website: www.timeforkindness.co.uk
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/time_for_kindness/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TimeforKindness
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarah-browning-she-her-438b4120/

Other links mentioned.
Hank Green's sad gap video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbPY2hyU3zk
John Green's sad gap video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bew3EMicf8g
BBC good news stories: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cx2pk70323et
Anatomy of Kindness podcast: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00154cp
Blog from a headteacher: https://timeforkindness.co.uk/kindness-blog/what-if-kindness-is-a-priority-in-education/

Alexis' links.
I hang out on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alexisbushnell/​
Find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SocialMediaForHumans
Join the club to learn more about ethical and effective social media marketing: https://socialmediaforhumans.club/

Voice over by Hawke Wood: https://www.spotlight.com/3490-9081-8844

Support the show
Hawke:

Hello and welcome to Social Media for Humans, the  podcast that empowers you to do social differently.   Your host, Alexis Bushnell, and her guests discuss  their experience of social media as business   owners, users, and ultimately humans with insights  and advice to help you find an effective and   ethical strategy that works for you. Grab yourself  a drink and join the conversation.  

Alexis:

Hello hello, I am here with fabulous Sarah, do introduce yourself, tell us who you are, what you do.

Sarah:

Good morning, my name is Sarah Browning and my pronouns are she her and I'm a kindness cheerleader and   communicator, and I work with organisations and  individuals who have a vision of a kinder world.  

Alexis:

That is a fabulous job title, kindness  cheerleader, tell me what that means to you.  

Sarah:

So I guess there's a couple of things,  some of it comes from the fact that   I work with organisations and individuals to  to help them communicate their messages more   clearly, so some of the cheerleading comes from that piece of kind of raising people's   voices, helping them to to raise their own  voices, and also the cheerleader aspect comes   probably only in the last 12, 18 months that I've  described myself in that way, I think I've probably   been acting in that way for a lot longer, but  I've described it that way because kindness is   so important to me and I have come to realise that  actually there is an awful lot of kindness in the   world around us, we just don't talk enough about  it yet and so part of my mission I guess both in   terms of kind of professionally and personally  is about amplifying those stories of kindness,   shouting about it, helping to help those  that either are not able to see the kindness   in the world or perhaps are less, I don't know,  perhaps less confident about seeing it maybe, it's about amplifying those stories and showing  them that it is there and the more we see it, the   more we talk about it, the more we will get, very  much from the basis of there is a lot already. I'm   not denying there's lots of horrible stuff going  on, don't get me wrong there is, but it's about the   balance of that narrative, and what we talk  about, and where we put our focus and attention.  

Alexis:

Yeah, yeah, kind of like a look  for the helpers situation,   when people say, you know, something awful  happens look for the people who are helping.  

Sarah:

Absolutely, absolutely. And you know what's been really interesting, I'm not a driver but I   imagine if you drive and you decide you want to  buy a red car then you see red cars everywhere, and   in the same way, you know, as I have become more  and more aware of how important kindness is to me   and I have, I think I probably have a more natural  leaning towards looking for it anyway, but the more   I have looked the more I have seen and actually  I mean one of the stories we published on the   time for kindness Instagram, website  and socials and all the rest of it, one of   the stories we posted was around a friend of mine  who was a shopping center and saw a little old   lady waiting on the other side of the automatic  doors and people were streaming through and the   poor lady couldn't get through and then my friend  let her through, and I think it's very easy for   people to focus on all the ones who didn't let  her through, whereas actually if you see somebody   letting them through then that's where you can  put your focus and notice that that did happen.  

Alexis:

Yeah yeah, you are so right, and I think especially  with the news cycle, I was going to say at the   moment but it's not even at the moment anymore  it's just the news cycle forever,   it is really easy to see all of the bad stuff and also of course the news doesn't, you don't get   the good news on the news at 6 so you, you know,  it's all like here is all the heinous things   that you need to know are happening in the world,  and so I do think a lot of people at the moment   have realised how difficult it is to cope  with the just constant onslaught of bad news.   So I think what you're doing is amazing  because I do think we need to look for those good news stories, and those kindnesses, and the reasons, the good reasons, the good things that   make us human against that sort of backdrop  of here is all the reasons humans are awful.

Sarah:

Yeah absolutely, absolutely, and one of the things  that drives me and then that worries me is   that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,  you know, we've sold ourselves collectively   or whatever, this this idea that humans are  awful and we're all going to hell in a handcart   but actually, and part of that I think within  that is this idea that kindness is the same as   weakness and it really isn't. I think it's,  you mentioned there about the kind of   what makes us human, and it's that shared humanity  is what kindness shows and kind of   brings to the fore, and that's incredibly  powerful actually, you know, it's not weak,   it is powerful, and it's what connects us all  and there is something about, you know, wanting   to believe in that and partly, on my website  when I talk about who is Time for Kindness for,   you know, it's for people who believe in kindness  but it's also for people who want to believe in   kindness but perhaps they're a bit unsure and  a bit unconfident about whether they   are being silly and fluffy and weak, and so some  of I don't know if I would describe myself   necessarily as militant about kindness, but at  times it feels that way you know, which isn't   to say, I also get sucked into the the negativity  sometimes and the downward spiral and that's really   horrible and really hard and, you know,  it's certainly not. I'm not wanting to set up in   any way to criticise people who get caught up in  that because it is so easy and, again, I think there   is something about that kind of being conscious of  what you're consuming, what you're looking at, what   you're engaging with, and so on and so on, that if you want to and if you are able to,   you can make a choice to change. For all sorts of  reasons sometimes people are not in a position to   be able to do that but actually even if you can  do it just a little bit, just a tiny bit, just see   one story that's a bit more positive each day or  a bit kinder each day, then it starts to build up   and become something bigger in my view of the world. Alexis: Yeah no, I think you're right. Actually   I watched a video from Hank Green about the sad  gap the other day which was really interesting   because he was saying how there's sort of  a curve of when we learn about a new issue   or there is a new a new thing going on in the  news where initially we don't know about it   and then we become conscious of it and we only see  all the bad things, and then as we learn more about   it we start to see the nuance of it and that  it's not all bad and that actually there's   a lot of work being done to improve it and  there's all these new businesses starting up   and grassroots organisations working towards  changing it and things like that, and that then   gives us that balance. But he was saying that the  way the news cycle, and also of course social media,   work is that we are always on the sort  of up of that, we are always taking on   new things and we never dive into,   like dive deeper into them so we never get   over the the sad gap to the side where we're  like "oh okay it's not all awful."   That's interesting and yeah I guess the clue is in news perhaps, the sort of new bit.   I mean you were saying we don't  get any positive stories in the news, actually   we do and what I have found again since kind of  actively looking for things, the BBC has a positive   feed page or something, I can't remember whatever  it's called, it is there but it's not headlined in   the same way so actually it's very easy to just  miss it if you don't actively go looking for it and I guess there is. So I've been listening recently to the   Anatomy of Kindness podcast by Claudia Hammond  who's involved with at the University of Sussex,   they're running a big public research project  called the kindness test in conjunction with   Radio 4 and I've been listening to the podcast  recently and I was listening to it this morning   and the podcast they've had different  themes you know each week or whatever   and what I was listening to this morning  was around can bosses be kind, ws   which was quite interesting and they  were talking about the negativity bias,   that if you ask somebody to tell you a  story about a boss that they worked for   they are far far more likely to tell you  about a bad thing that happened with a boss   than a good thing, and they may have lots of good  things that happened but somehow again, I mean I   don't know the science of it but somehow we seem  to developed somewhere along the line, or maybe   it's always been there, this kind of negativity  thing, and you know in some situations you do   need to see the bad to protect yourself as it were,  the whole kind of safety, you know. I would say I'm   not a scientist so I get a little vague at this  point because most of my stuff is on gut instinct   but I think that there is something about that,  that kind of what we choose to look for, or even   we may not be making a conscious choice actually  but what we are looking for again it's kind of the story that we tell ourselves  and others and then it becomes self-fulfilling.  

Alexis:

It's interesting you say about that negativity  bias as well because I think that shows up a lot   on social media where people are, like with brands people are much more likely to send   a Tweet because they had a bad experience with  a brand, to leave a review because they had a bad   experience with a product, than the opposite, than  if they had a great experience, people so rarely   shout out about that and I think that it is so  frustrating, especially for small business owners.   It's really difficult to get people to leave  reviews if they've had a good experience,   so I do think that shows up in social media a  lot which I think kind of plays into that sort of   reason that so many people are anti social media  and like social media is just bad and it's all   negative but I that is absolutely not  true from my experience and I would imagine   from your experience too. Sarah: Yeah absolutely and part of this thing is that we seem to be in an age of absolutes somehow so you know  social media either has to be good or bad it can't   be somewhere in the middle or both, and the same with kindness people are either kind or   they're unkind, well no that's not true either, kind people do bad things and vice versa.    So I think there is lots of good around social media in terms of the work that I'm doing   because I am seeing stories of  kindness that are shared and I think   you're right, they maybe not shared quite as  often necessarily but also, of course, it's a   way to reach out to more people so when I do find  the stories I do tell my friends and family, but I think the point which I realised  that I'm obviously perhaps getting a little bit   obsessed with it, my daughter who's 14 came home  from school saying she'd helped a younger child   at football group who had a problem  with their football boot laces and she'd   helped to undo this kid's laces. That's lovely,  that's really kind, did you get a photograph? At which point I've got the eye  roll and the "oh for goodness sake!"   So but you know, so I do but  social media means that I can share   that to a wider audience and  that they can then obviously share it on   as well. What is interesting I think is that  pretty much everyone I tell what I'm doing,    I think almost everybody, if not everybody, I  said to about it says "oh that's such a good idea,"   getting them then to take the step to  to follow on social media or to engage   with the website or whatever I think is the  next stage that I will say I need to work on,   but again it's that thing isn't it of  taking action, taking a positive action. We mean to,   we just don't necessarily get around to it.  Alexis: Yeah yeah yeah definitely and I think again   it's especially, like everybody's busy  and the positive things tend to be the ones   that we put off, like the self-care, the  looking for the good in the world, the slowing down,   it's those things that we tend to shelve when  things are busy and stressful and overwhelming,   which is interesting because I think at  this point we all know that those are the   things we need the most in those moments. Sarah: Yeah absolutely and you know it's    the same isn't it, we all know that we should  be eating five portions of fruit and veg a day,   do we realistically? Probably not. So yeah  there is something isn't there around that,   we know it's good for us and it would be  a good thing sometimes, I mean I know that I    receive a few different newsletters that  are around positive news and happy news and   that sort of thing, they're always the ones  I read last, and the reason they're the ones   I read last is because I sort of want to save  the nice thing to the end, if that makes sense.   Like the best bit in your dinner, leaving that till  the end isn't it, it's a little bit like I kind   of want to savor it and actually sometimes what  happens of course is life gets in the way and I   don't actually get to it, so I probably would be  better just to read it first. So I think there's   all sorts of complex things going on and they're  in people's heads around, kind of, what we choose   to do, when we choose to do it, but with the  best of intentions sometimes things get missed,   you know, we're all human aren't we. Alexis: Yes. I want to come back to what you were saying about asking your daughter if she'd taking a photo because I think this is something it comes up a lot around   like virtue signaling signaling and social issues  and stuff, I think it's true of of just generic   kindness shall we say, in that there is a  set of people who would probably say if you are   documenting it then you're not doing it out  of the goodness of your heart, you're doing it   to show how kind you are, to shout about what  an amazing person you are, and for the sort of   external bigging up. What is your thoughts on that? Sarah: Yeah well I said first of all Time for   Kindness I'm very adamant that, you know, this  isn't about saying "oh look at Sarah, isn't she kind."   You know, by and large did we get that balance  right, obviously some of those are things   I've done but it is about amplifying stories,  but I think it's really that. Somebody asked me the   other day about, you know, had I experienced  any of that sort of virtue signaling,   kind of do-gooder accusations, and I haven't  so far, I suspect that is partly because the   reach isn't big enough yet. I imagine at  some point we might start to get some of that but   I also think there is some, there's a whole load  of things within that isn't there, one of which   is actually it's genuine and authentic and you can  call me a do-gooder, but actually what's wrong with   being a do-gooder, you know? Well, what's wrong  with doing good rather, I should say, because I   think do-gooder as a term as a majority of  us know it has come to have that meaning, but   actually I think it is authentic, I know  I am not doing any of this to show off to others   therefore I'm comfortable with that. I have wobbles  sometimes, of course I do, but by and large it's a   genuine authentic thing and I have found as I  have been more open in talking about kindness    in all sort of ways actually, but for  example on LinkedIn, which obviously I use from   a professional point of view and I have done for  years and years, but I the lens I talk about my   work now is much more through kindness, I get far  more response to that in terms of the "oh Sarah,   "I see the stuff you're doing, that's fantastic," than  I ever got when I just talked about communications.   So again I think there is something  about connecting with people and   using that kind of language to connect  with people, and I think there is   this sort of idea that if you do kind  things it has to not, you know, you don't get a   benefit from it, if you get a benefit from it  then if that somehow negates it. I think it is   complete nonsense actually, why shouldn't it be  a win-win? And it is true that whatever, you know,   kindness can be very very small and actually a  lot of what we put on Time for Kindness are the   much smaller kind of everyday acts of kindness  because there are so many of those, but actually   even if you're just on your morning dog walk  and you see somebody and you smile and,   that can be a kindness if they're having a bad day but actually that again, that kind of connection and   that doing something with somebody, helping  somebody pick up their shopping if they drop   something in the supermarket, those kinds of things,  you know it does give you a boost because it,    you know, it is good to do something like that, it  is nice and I personally think there is nothing   wrong with that. I think where it becomes a  problem is when it does become performative   and I think it's what is interesting at the  moment is where, kindness is definitely having a   moment in the sense that more and more brands and  people in the public eye and so on are are using   the language of kindness and you know, I think,  I'm sure for a lot of them that is genuine   but for some it isn't, for some it will just be the  hopping on the bandwagon so you know, I think   we, so it is right to sometimes kind of question,  "okay, so you're using this language but this is   "how you're treating your employees" or whatever,  well it doesn't quite add up but I would   argue that that is a minority overall of all  the kindness that is going on around the world.   Yeah yeah. I think for me the  differentiation is actions versus words,   like if you are talking about kindness and how  kind you are and how you know you do all these   kind things but you're not actually doing them,  that is that's where the line is for me. It's very   much like if you are taking the kind actions  then shout about them, I don't care, go for it.  

Sarah:

Absolutely, absolutely, because kindness is active. I agree with you, you know, it is it is something to be done. And actually the other  thing as well is, as you say, if you're shouting   about it, about the action and what's  happened, you can inspire other people as well, so   just reading about it can be uplifting but it  can also inspire that oh I could do that for   my neighbour, or actually there's that family that's  just moved in down the street that look different   to everyone else, I'm gonna go and say hello  to welcome them, you know. There's all sorts of   different things that can give you ideas that  you may not have thought of yourself or, like I   said earlier, been a bit kind of embarrassed  and shy about well I don't think I want to do   that, and then if you hear about other people doing  it you think actually yeah, I want to be like that too.   So yeah, I'm with you let's shout about it. Alexis: It's interesting as well that you say that you've had a lot of good feedback on LinkedIn because I think LinkedIn definitely has a reputation for   being the place where if you're not  posting about business and   deep thinkings about certain things that are  business related and certain very very specific   topics that you will get a lot of pushback, and a  lot of "this isn't Facebook" and stuff like that.   You have clearly not had that  situation, why do you think that is?   Yeah it's interesting isn't it because I've seen more of that more recently, that type of   both in terms of the kind of what you  might call more personal and then the pushback   against that. I guess one of the reasons  is probably because I'm talking to an echo   chamber, my own echo chamber, so there is an  element of that I think. I also, I guess    I do talk about kindness in a slightly different  way on different social media channels actually,   and where I, you know, introduced  myself at the start as a kindness cheerleader and   communicator, and on LinkedIn I am definitely kind  of both, and I am talking about the kind of work   that I do or that I'm interacting with, the things  that other people are doing in that sort of   professional way through the lens of kindness, if  that makes sense, it makes sense to me, I'm not sure   if it makes sense quite you know. But I  think that there is something about, and   again because I am not saying "hey look at Sarah,  okay look what I'm doing," I think that might be   different as well but I think it's, I do  share stories on LinkedIn, stories of kindness, they tend to be re-sharing  things that other people have already put on   LinkedIn as opposed to me having posts that  are just about kindness stories, I think for me   that would be the line that wouldn't quite feel  right in that context, although having said that   I mean I did put something on last week about  kind of kindness to self when I've been for a long   bike ride and I've taken a day off work,  but then that one did cause me a moment of   pause before I pressed publish because I did say  "I took the day off, my clients knew what was going on,"  but I thought, you know, what actually for me  because I work for myself, maybe it's different if   you work for yourself, I'm not sure, I've been  working for myself for such a long time   that LinkedIn wasn't really a thing when I was  employed so I never really used it as an employee,   but I think, you know, because I work  freelance and I do that because I like the   the entirety of my life, if you like, is kind of my  professional and my personal are combined and the   kindness and other aspects of the way I work are  personal values as well as business values so it's   cohesive, and I think some of that maybe  comes again back to that authenticity thing that   I'm clear. People work with  me in my professional capacity   because yes I'm good at what I do but also  they enjoy working with me, and so in that case they have to know who I am, they have  to trust me, and they can't trust me if they don't   know me, so I do have to sort of share a little  bit more about Sarah in an entire sense, but   it is a balance and I think, you know, there are  things that I see on LinkedIn that I sometimes say   "not sure if I'd have shared that," but actually  doesn't really matter whether I would share it or   not, I think if the person it feels comfortable  and to them it makes sense and it helps and   it is serving some kind of purpose. I mean  I think very often my take on it when I see   things that are very personal is it usually does  have some kind of connection, either to saying   look we're all human beings this stuff happens,  yes I'm a professional as well but this stuff   happens and if it's happening to you I hear you, I  see you, and I think there's a lot of value in that.   So I think that there is something  there around the way in which you, I guess   the lens that you use to talk about that personal  stuff, but I think it's an interesting one anyway.   For me it feels like something that has definitely  changed in the last, I don't know how many months,   but more recently certainly, and I think  some of that also is off the back of the pandemic   because suddenly we were all at home with  our dogs on our laps and our children coming   in to say hello and all of that kind of stuff,  and actually it became somehow more acceptable   to be a whole person, and that's one of those  things for me that's a good thing that's come   out of the awful time that we've all been through,  and that actually there's a lot of value in   keeping that going forward I think. Alexis: Yeah. Do you think that there has been an increase   in maybe appetite for good news since the pandemic  started as well? Because from what I have seen   there has been a shift in what people are  looking for, and the sort of conversations   people are having towards much more authenticity  and we are all human and stuff like that,   and I wonder if that has also sort of shifted  towards a want to see the the good news and the   happy things and the look actually there's some  good stuff going on in the world.    yeah I suspect it has got something to do with that and I think there is something about hope maybe as well, you know, kindness and hope is something that  is on my very long list of things to kind of   explore further and do more thinking about  and then share more content about actually,   and certainly. It's hard isn't it, you know,  thinking back to where we were two years ago,   now we're in this kind of oh it's all back to  normal kind of place, as it were, it's already quite   hard to remember what that was like two years  ago, that actually that was very   dark times obviously, you know, darker for some than  others, and depending on your kind of, your personal   circumstances and so on and what have you,  but nevertheless I think there was something   about needing hope and needing to look for  those positive things as well as the the fact   that there was a lot more, again more in some  communities probably than others, but there was   more of that reaching out and helping others,  albeit at a socially acceptable distance,   and so on and so on. But I think that it, just something huge like that I guess does just   change everything, and certainly I've been  talking, I've been working with these kinds of   organisations my whole, my entire career, most of my career, but it is only since kind of   late 2020 that I've expressed it as kindness.  I used to talk about wanting to to work with   organisations that wanted a better world  and in late 2020 I think we were all thinking   what the heck is going on here, what do I really  want from life? What is really important to me? And   in that context is where I, you know, it occurred  to me that actually I say better, I mean kinder, and   I'm going to be more open about that now. And  for me I think there was an element of, you know, it   did feel brave to start with because it did feel  a little bit like am I going to get laughed at, am I   going to get kind of shouted down? But actually  you know that need for more kind of   positivity, I talk specifically about  kindness which I think positive news is   bigger than just kindness, but I think you know  there is definitely, I guess with any content   it's only going to be well received if people  want it and are looking for it, so I suppose this is a very long way to answer your  question that actually it must be that there's   more of an appetite for positive and kind  news otherwise it wouldn't be so well received.  

Alexis:

Yeah no, I think you're right, the audience needs to be there   otherwise you know about it pretty quickly!  Sarah: Yeah the tumbleweed going across would tell you!   Yeah. There are going to be a lot of people I imagine, like you mentioned at the beginning,   who are feeling kindness is fluffy, kindness is  not important, or possibly scared to look   for it maybe in case they don't find it, what  would you say are some sort of baby steps, I   guess, for people who are like "I don't really know  about this?"

Sarah:

Absolutely. Follow Time for Kindness  might be a suggestion because we definitely have  kindness stories so if you're worried you're not   going to find any definitely come and find us! A bit of a tongue-in-cheek answer   really because I guess first I would say I  completely get that because there is something   you know in terms of either taking kind actions,  or even to some extent looking for them, that's   about vulnerability because you know, and like  I said when I first started talking about it more   it did feel like quite a brave thing  to do because I didn't know how   it would be received but I think  you know that starting to look,   look for the helpers like you said, and  it is a first step that you can take   because the stories are there and it does become  a virtuous circle as well you know, the more you   you speak, the more you look for and you see,  you know, you see other things and I think you know in terms of kindness sometimes  people can think it has to be something big   and some grand gesture, actually it doesn't you know, there is kindness in really small things   as well, so like I said just kind of smiling  and saying hello to somebody on the street,   but again I appreciate there are people for whom  that isn't possible because you know, you don't go   out on the street, or you're concerned about  that kind of vulnerability, so there will   be other things that you can do and I think  actually one of the good things about social media   is that possibility to find your tribe and find  communities, and actually there's a lot of kindness   within just getting involved in a group  that shares your interests. If you've got a   hobby that you enjoy or a TV program that you  like or whatever, sometimes just complimenting somebody on there, that's an act of kindness, you don't   have to compliment them necessarily but recognise  them on there, or say actually yes I agree with   that, I hear you, all of those kinds of things can  be quite small depending on the kind of context of   how you live your life there will be something  that you can take that small step. I spoke on a radio program last year, I think, it  was around kindness and gratitude actually   and the host of that is somebody who  has had a very dark past and one   of the things that she was talking about was  actually if you're in some awful situation   how do you start to see kindness? How do you  start to find gratitude? And actually   I think sometimes it's that kindness to self  thing that perhaps is the kindness that you can you know apply if you like, in terms  of sometimes just getting out of bed   is a big deal and you shouldn't underestimate  that, and that you know being kind to yourself   to recognise that you made yourself a cup of tea  today, you know, there are all sorts of things, I   think it is a question of finding something  that is, you know, might feel like a huge step, don't   listen to the voice that's telling you "well  that's pathetic, you've just made a cup of tea,"   actually acknowledge that voice, let it  go and focus on the kindness side of   that to be kind to yourself. And then again I  do believe it becomes more of a virtuous circle   that once you feel stronger in yourself then you  might feel brave enough to to do something for   someone else, but actually if you don't that's  okay, you know, it's what is right for you and   your life and no one else knows that except you  and I think that's really important to remember.  

Alexis:

Yeah and I think as well when you talk about  sort of the community aspect of it, I think it's   important for us all to remember as well that part  of the point of community is that sometimes   we are giving and sometimes we are receiving and we don't always have to be doing the kindness,   sometimes the kindness is allowing other  people to do it and just receiving it, and   that could be difficult in itself but I think it  is important to try and sort of re-orientate   how you're sort of seeing things to realise  that it doesn't always have to be you doing   the thing, and equally it doesn't always have to  be you receiving the thing, it is a balance.   And actually from sort of my own experience I have suffered with quite severe depression and I tried a gratitude journal many years  ago now because it was the big thing at the time,   everybody was like "gratitude journaling cures  depression." Spoilers, not true! But I tried it   and I found it made me dramatically worse because  not only was I so depressed I couldn't think of   things to be grateful for, it added a layer of  now I feel guilty because I'm so selfish that I   can't think of anything to be grateful for, and so  for me it was giving kindness in those instances   because it is so much easier, or was for me,  it was so much easier to be kind to other   people than it was to myself but, like  you say, it does start to create that circle   of, because if you're giving kindness you know  there is kindness in the world, you know it exists   because you're doing it. So I think  some of it is also just checking in   with what is making sense to you, like you  say, like what do you need? And what is not   helping you? And being okay with showing yourself  that kindness of this is not working for me,   this is not helping me, I'm not gonna do it, I'm not  gonna push that.   

Sarah:

Yeah absolutely, I mean I often say that I think one of the things that would be  great would be if we could ban the word 'should.'   It's quite difficult to talk  about that without using the word but you know, I think that, as you say, there's a lot  of "this is what you should do, this will   help you," and actually it doesn't help everybody,  and there is something about   as you say, recognising what's serving you and what  isn't, and that will be different for different   people because we are different, we're different  individuals, and that is hard when, particularly if   you're unwell it's hard to recognise  that and see that, and the point at which.   So when I started Time for Kindness 18 months  or so ago it was a nice idea, I thought, you know,   I'll have a bit of a go, I'll sort of play with  it, see what happens, and the point at which   it became apparent to me and I  thought this is too important not to do   was somebody I know, I don't know them very well  but I had met them through local networks and   things and hadn't seen for a while and then  they got in touch with me, by LinkedIn actually,   and a private message and said "I've seen what  you're doing," I knew that they had a lot of difficulties with their mental health, and  they got in touch with me and said that they   had been in an incredibly dark place and actually  it's the kindness of strangers that saved them,   and they said, you know, "I've seen  what you're doing, please don't stop doing   it because when you're in that dark place  it's hard to see the kindness for yourself,   you reflecting that I can see it's there  even if I'm not well enough to engage with it."   At the moment and, as I said, that was the point I  thought this is too important not to do and you know, as I say it's always been important to  me but that was when I thought yeah, this is    kind of my commitment to keep doing this and  keep building on this, because I mean it still   makes the hairs on the back of my neck  stand up. There is, for me, there   is something about holding that space for people  if they can't do it for themselves until they are   ready. So there's, you know, there's a lot built in  this within Time for Kindness, but it is   important, I think, to have something there for  other people if they're not able to themselves.  

Alexis:

Yeah yeah and I think that again comes back to  that giving and receiving, and the importance of   when we are able to see the kindness ourselves  sharing it with other people, telling other people   about this kind thing that you saw today or  this kind thing that you did today, so that it becomes that normal part of conversation  and you're not always talking about "did you see   this awful thing on the new." That actually part of those conversations   you're having with the people around you is  actually this really great thing happened today,   I saw this person pick up somebody's bag for them  and put everything back in it and send   them on their way again, and things like that. Like  we need that and we need to share that more.   And it is so important, I think, that  when we are in a place of being able to see that,   of becoming conscious of how how much we  are sharing of the "this is important, you   need to know about this," versus "this is a  nice thing, there are good things happening."  

Sarah:

Yeah absolutely, I mean one of the things that I love is when people, and this is   starting to happen, but when people are coming to  me kind of proactively saying I thought you'd like   to hear about this, I saw this thing happen today,  I'd like that to happen more, I'd like to sort of get to a place where we've built  on that and done that more, and in a funny   sort of way where it isn't happening so  much, other than as I mentioned with my daughter in   the football boots, is within my friendship circle  actually, my family, because we don't have those   sorts of conversations very often. They know that  Sarah does this thing but actually, you know,   some of them do but again it's that sort of  needing to encourage people to take action,   and one of the actions is tell me what you saw,  tell me what happened, and if you can get a photo   also good, if not we'll get one separately. But again I think, and actually with my daughter it's   interesting because we went up to London last week  and unbidden she pointed out to me that she'd seen somebody give up a seat on the tube for  someone else and "oh mum!" So I think   again it's that thing of you know getting  into that habit of, as I   said, kind of spotting the things but then talking  about them. And you don't have to tell   me about it but you know talking, telling your  friends and family about it or whatever because   it becomes a natural part of the way we live  our lives then, we're not thinking about something   consciously that we have to have on our to-do  list it's just part of who we are and how we are.  

Alexis:

Yeah yeah I do. It's interesting that you say  your daughter has been sort   of the main person who has really sort of taken  that on and is sharing things, because I do think   children especially, it's not weird to kids to be  kind and they are much more adaptable to things   like that, so I do think actually if you have  young children in your life it can be really   useful to talk to them about kindness so that they  start sharing stuff and it gives you a nudge, because I think as an adult we are so  conditioned and programmed and we've been   in this sort of adulting professional world for  so long where it's like "oh kindness is mushy   and silly, gotta focus on this, gotta do this,  gotta do that," but to have that reminder from   children where they're like "oh look they're doing  this over here," just to remind you so that you're   like "oh yeah that's so cool," can start to help  you readjust your your own view of things as well.  

Sarah:

Yeah and you know we were talking earlier about  that kind of self-fulfilling prophecy and kind   of narratives that we've sold ourselves, and  actually this idea that children are cruel   is one of those in my humble opinion, this idea  that children are all mean to each other at school   that isn't true necessarily. What I think has  been interesting, so one of my favourite days of the   year is the Kind Fest online festival of kindness  which is on world kindness day, 13th November I   think it is, they over the last couple of  years have had quite a few speakers talking about   schemes that are with working in schools  with primary aged children around kindness   and developing kindness, and very often actually  with children of that age it's about helping them   have the language to articulate, so that they  might do things naturally to help a   friend or whatever but they don't necessarily  have the language to see that as kindness,   and one of the blogs on the Time for  Kindness site is from a head teacher of a junior   school and they have kindness champions and she  talks about how kindness is actually written into   the curriculum in various ways. But then   I'm yet to find anything, I'm not saying it doesn't   exist so if anybody listening to the podcast  knows of something like this please do get   in touch and tell me about it because I'd like to  see that carry on with teenagers, because actually   I think the the challenge for teenagers, and it's  one of the reasons that I think my daughter   is quite remarkable in many ways, is that  that's the age when you feel really vulnerable   and really self-conscious and, you know, so often  you want to fit in and you don't   really know who you are but you don't want to be  different to anyone else and that kind of thing,   and so I think I'd like to hear if, as I say, if  anyone knows of any kind of schemes that help   teenagers to have that confidence in continuing.  Because again, when when you're feeling   vulnerable and if you're worried something's  weak then you're not gonna go there, and yet   actually again, self-fulfilling kind of narrative  that we've sold ourselves that teenagers and young   people are all, you know, out on street corners  doing god knows what, also not true. Yes, that   is the reality for some but actually for so many  more they do all sorts of positive things   and all sorts of different stuff going on, we just  don't hear those stories very often either so at some point I would like to bring more  of the kind of youth voice and young people's   voice into Time for Kindness because at the moment  it's me and people like me quite frankly, which is   great, we're good but there's a lot of us, so I'd  like to bring in different voices as well, but that's, as I say, very long list of  things to think about, do, bring in, at some point.

Alexis:

Well if people would like to be one of those  voices and they would like to share their own   story of kindness, or indeed see all of these  stories of kindness, where can they find you?  

Sarah:

So they can find me on Instagram which is @Time_For_Kindness there's also   Time for Kindness page on Facebook and TimeForKindness.co.uk is the website   which has all the stories and also has blogs  and my kind of professional services as well.  

Alexis:

Very good. This has been absolutely  fascinating, thank you so much for being here  

Sarah:

It's been an absolute pleasure, you know I  could talk about kindness till the cows come home   so if anyone wants to get in touch just for a chat  about kindness I would love to hear from them.  

Alexis:

Fabulous, I will of course put all of your  links in the show notes so people can find you   very very easily, they do not have to  remember where those underscores are.

Sarah:

Thanks very much.

Hawke:

If you want more regular reminders to find your  own way to use social media, follow Alexis on   your social platform of choice, all the links will  be in the show notes. Until next time, be a human.